Eggplant, Properties and Health Benefits

If you want to enjoy fresh eggplants all year round, we at Oro del Salento preserve eggplants in oil, spiced to appreciate their taste more, or coarsely ground for tasty bruschetta
Eggplants belong to the Solanaceae family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. They grow very similarly to tomatoes, hanging like grapes on the vines of a plant that grows vertically. The different varieties differ slightly in taste and texture, generally the taste is pleasantly bitter and the texture spongy.

Eggplant and Health Benefits

In addition to a series of vitamins and minerals, eggplants also contain important phytonutrients, which perform an antioxidant activity.
Research on eggplants is focused on a phytonutrient found in the skin, called Nasunin. This is a powerful antioxidant against free radicals and therefore protects against cell aging.

Anthocyanins are the class of pigments that give the characteristic blue/purple color to vegetables such as eggplants, raspberries, grapes… etc and have antioxidant and antitumor action.

Rich in Phenolic Antioxidant Compounds

Some researchers from the US Agricultural Service in Beltsville in Maryland have found that eggplants are rich in phenolic compounds that function as antioxidants and form such compounds to protect against bacterial and fungal infections.
The good news about eggplant is that the predominant phenolic compound present in all tested varieties is chlorogenic acid, which is one of the most powerful free radical scavengers in plant tissues. Benefits? Chlorogenic acid is anti-mutagenic (anti-cancer), antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol), and antiviral.

Researchers also studied about seven eggplant cultivars commercially grown in the United States and a varied collection of exotic and wild eggplants from other counties. In addition to chlorogenic acid, they found 13 other phenolic acids significantly present in commercial cultivars, although chlorogenic acid was the predominant phenolic compound in all of them.

In addition to their potential nutritional value, the phenolic acids in eggplants are responsible for the bitter taste of some varieties.

Scientists have begun working on the development of eggplant cultivars with an optimal balance of polyphenols to ensure both optimal nutritional value and pleasant taste.

Cardiovascular Health

When laboratory animals with high cholesterol were given eggplant juice, the cholesterol in the blood, the one present in the artery walls, and the one in the aorta (the aorta is the artery that returns blood from the heart to circulation in the body) was significantly reduced, while the walls of their blood vessels relaxed, resulting in improved blood flow.
These positive effects were probably due not only to nasunin, but also to many other phytonutrients present in eggplants.

A Bit of History

Wild eggplants began to grow in India, was later cultivated in China, and introduced to Africa before the Middle Ages. It finally arrived in Europe and Italy.
Today, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, China, and Japan are the main producers of eggplants.

Although it has a long and rich history, the eggplant is not revered in today’s food culture, especially in European kitchens.

For centuries, after its introduction to Europe, eggplants were used more as a decorative garden plant than as food, until the 18th century, when new variants were introduced that made the eggplant lose its bitter taste.

How to Select Eggplants

Choose eggplants that have a considerable weight, their skin must be shiny and smooth and the color uniformly dark purple, they must not have any discoloration, scar or bruise. The latter indicates that the flesh underneath is yielding or possibly degenerating.
The stem and cap, at the two ends of the eggplants, should be bright green.

Trick: To check the ripeness of an eggplant, gently press the skin with your thumb. If it bounces back, the eggplant is ripe, while if it stays in or struggles to bounce back it is not ripe.

Although it seems like a robust vegetable, the eggplant is actually very delicate and easily perishable, it is sensitive to heat and cold and should be stored at a temperature of about 10°C. Do not cut the eggplants before storing them in the refrigerator, as they deteriorate quickly once sliced.

energy=”17″ energy=”72″ fats=”0.2″ carbohydrates=”2.5″ dietaryfiber=”2.8″ proteins=”1.2″

If you wish to cut and store eggplants, keep them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator in the lower fruit and vegetable compartment, where they can stay for a couple of days. If you buy eggplants wrapped in clear plastic wrap, remove the wrap as soon as possible, as it inhibits the vegetable’s breathing and alters its freshness.

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